the taste space

Yam, Black Bean and Amaranth Burritos

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on November 16, 2010


Toronto has a lot of burrito restaurants. I have been to a few places, but my favourite sandwich remains the yam burrito at Big Fat Burrito.  I used to gush about them at work, where our Monday lunches were burritos from Big Fat Burrito. It turned out to be a bad idea, because we started to run out of the yam burritos.

I haven’t eaten a burrito in a while, especially after I found out that the steak burrito at Burrito Boyz is over a pound of food, and over 1000 calories. Chipotle fares no better, clocking in at over 1200 calories if you include guacamole.

However, when I spotted this (since adapted) recipe in Bob’s Red Mill Cookbook for yam, black bean and amaranth burritos, I knew I had to give burritos a second chance. Making them at home meant I could make them healthier!  Including a touch of sour cream, these burritos are around 550 calories, but it all depends on the tortilla, salsa and added fixins you use. Next time I make burritos, I will try to search out freshly made tortillas from La Tortilleria. Sometimes, though, I ate this more like a stew, sans wrap.

Amaranth is an optional ingredient, but if you have it, this is a great way to incorporate it into your meal. Amaranth is one of those up-and-coming superfoods. It is an ancient South American seed loaded with protein, fiber and minerals, akin to quinoa. It has a slightly nutty taste and can be quite sticky. It works well as a binder in these burritos.

Amaranth has an interesting history, as it was believed to have superpowers and was given to the army for increased energy. Furthermore, it was used during religious ceremonies as effigies, and thus was banished when the Spaniards invaded Mexico. It has only been rejuvenated within the past few decades and still remains relegated to health food stores (I found mine in bulk at Essence of Life but have also seen it at the St Lawrence Market at Lively Life Fine Food).

Here are some other recipes with amaranth seed:

Emeril Lagasse’s Five Grain Salad on The Kitchn
Banana Apple Coconut Curry at Oh She Glows
Jewelled Amaranth at Cook (almost) Everything At Least Once
Heidi Swanson’s Savory Amaranth Soufflé at Pink Stripes
Ottolenghi’s Potato and Amaranth Cakes at The Guardian
Crunchy Stalks and Branches Snacks
at Diet, Dessert N Dogs


This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring sweet potatoes, and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen.

Yam, Black Bean and Amaranth Burritos

2 large yams or sweet potatoes (1.5 lb)
1/2 cup amaranth
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup salsa, ideally with mango (I used President’s Choice Peach and Mango Salsa, but any salsa would do)
2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained (or a 19-oz can)
2/3 cup cilantro, chopped (omitted)
4 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
6 large tortillas (I used Dempster’s 10″ Ancient Grain tortillas, which are delicious, but 180 calories each)
1 large avocado, sliced, for serving (omitted)
6 tsp low-fat sour cream, for serving (omit if vegan)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment or silicone.

2. Spread diced yams in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Mix together to evenly coat and the spread on a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast 35-40 minutes, until yams are softened inside. Set aside. Turn the oven down to 350F.

3. Add amaranth to cold water, add a dash of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Set aside.

4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and then add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chili flakes and bell peppers and continue cooking for an additional 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute then stir in the cooked yams, tomatoes, salsa, beans, cilantro (if using), lime juice, chili powder and cumin and cook just to heat through, about 3-4 minutes more. Finally, add the cooked amaranth and season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Divide the mixture evenly between the warm flour tortillas. Top with sour cream. Fold up tortillas burrito style, and place on a baking sheet.

6. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated 350F oven, and serve with sliced avocado.

Serves 6.

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10 Responses

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  1. Ricki said, on November 16, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    Your pictures always, always make me hungry! And it’s only 8:33 AM–but I want a burrito! Looks fabulous. Thanks so much for this submission to the SOS Challenge. And thanks for the Stalks and Branches mention, too–haven’t made those in ages. Maybe time to do so again ;)

  2. Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said, on November 16, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    Love the presentation !!!

  3. Lisa said, on November 16, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    Lovely and very creative. Thanks so much for this submission to MLLA.

  4. Priya sreeram said, on November 17, 2010 at 3:02 AM

    hey they look awesome, and loved the way you have explained it— simply fab!

  5. […] theme, now is the time for quinoa to shine.  Also hailing originally from South America (so was amaranth), quinoa was called the mother of all grains by the Incas. Technically it is not a whole grain, […]

  6. […] Yam, black bean, and amaranth burritos (defrost GF tortillas, make 1/2 recipe only) Mustard […]

  7. Ashley said, on January 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Yuuuuuuuum I could eat a burrito everyday. This version sounds really good. I have some amaranth in my cupboard but I also have millet and I took them out of their original bags so now I can’t tell the difference haha. Not that it matters much though.

  8. Ms. Kaz said, on February 26, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    We made these last month and they were awesome. Gonna make ‘em again tomorrow. Don’t have many recipes for amaranth.

  9. Ms. Kaz said, on February 26, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Oh yeah and scallions are a good addition. Didn’t have Aleppo chili flakes, used some cayenne. And I think we used fire-roasted canned tomatoes.


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